Editor's Note: Face to Face
One evening this past January, we co-hosted a party at Michael’s New York celebrating the winners of the Saturday Evening Post’s Great American Fiction Contest (congratulations again, Lucy Bledsoe!). During the event, Steven Slon, Editorial Director of the Post, leaned over to me, pointed toward the tables in the front of the restaurant, and said, “Do you know who’s out there?” Turns out, we were there at the same time as the Adam’s Round Table, a group of illustrious mystery writers who meet monthly at various New York restaurants. (Some of you may have read Jeffrey Toobin’s recent story about this in The New Yorker.)
Later, as I was leaving our party, I found myself walking directly past this celebrated group. Though my intent was to slip quietly past, I stopped and thought “what the heck.” I screwed up my courage and approached the table. “Hi!” I said brightly, “I’m in the book business too!” I introduced myself and mentioned my Book Business affiliation. I looked toward the dinner guest at the far side of the table. “Hello,” she said, with a warm smile, “I’m Mary Higgins Clark.” “Wow,” I thought, “this is exciting!” Despite my many years in the business, I still get a thrill meeting a well-known author. The gentleman to her left spoke up.“Hello,” he said pleasantly, “I’m Nelson DeMille.” One by one, they went around the table presenting friendly faces and bold-faced names.
One of these welcoming faces belonged to Susan Isaacs, and it was to her I presented my business card with a wishful, “I’d love to interview you sometime about your experience in the book business.” When I followed up later with a note to her publicist, I quickly received a lovely reply from Isaacs herself, saying she’d be happy to talk. She offered to do an interview by phone or in person, whatever I would prefer. Given the opportunity to spend some time with her in person, I chose to make the trip up from our home-base of Philadelphia to meet her.
Last month Isaacs and I talked for an hour in her New York apartment, to which she kindly invited me. You’ll read this interview on page 19 and appreciate, as did I, her insights into how and why the book business is changing.
The experience reminds me that, sometimes, in our electronically connected world, we forget the value of face-to-face, of making an impression with a direct approach, a smile and a handshake. And while the efficiency of email is indisputable, it still doesn’t surpass the impact of looking someone in the eye and having one of those old-fashioned encounters called a conversation.
Speaking of face-to-face, I’d like to take this opportunity to invite you to mark your calendar for some face time with us, the Publishing Business Group. From September 23-25 this year, we’ll be hosting our annual Publishing Business Conference & Expo at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City. Right now we’re busy selecting session topics, lining up speakers, and creating a number of special events that will run during the conference, all enabling you to have face-to-face time with colleagues new and old. We’ll be putting special emphasis at the show on networking opportunities. I love to play hostess, and I’ll be working to make sure I meet you and introduce you to each other at our show.
Please plan to join us, and please also feel free to send me speaking proposals or ideas for what you’d like us to cover at the show.
And now I can’t resist the urge to sign off with a little Bogey: “Here’s looking at you!”